What is an e-Learning subscription and is it for me?

The majority of us have spent more time at home this year than ever before, and while this has been frustrating, it’s also given us the opportunity to explore new ways to keep our minds busy. Lots of people have turned to online learning, as a way to sharpen their skills, or develop new ones. Not only does online learning offer us the opportunity to work on our personal and professional development from the comfort of our own homes – but it can also act as a welcome distraction, from some of the more negative things going on in the world right now.

The great thing about online learning is that it can be done at your own pace, and on your own terms – which helps to make it a stress-free, enjoyable experience. And while there are plenty of free online courses out there, which can teach you the basics of almost anything, many people find it beneficial to go a step further, and take out an e-learning subscription. Doing so can give you the chance to really get into the nitty-gritty of a range of different subjects, have your questions answered by tutors, and achieve widely recognised certification.

If you’re completely new to online learning, or have never considered taking out an e-Learning subscription before, then you might find it useful to have all the facts. Here, we explain what exactly an e-Learning subscription is, how you can benefit, and offer a few options for getting started.

What is an e-Learning subscription?

An e-Learning subscription is a fee that you will pay yearly or monthly to an online course provider. In exchange for your money, you will get access to flexible online classes on a huge range of practical and/or theoretical topics. This could include anything from hairdressing, to coding, through to periods in history.

Courses or lessons will typically include a combination of lecture slides, interactive quizzes, games and assignments. Many courses also offer you the chance to have your questions answered by educators, or to have 1:1 support from an online tutor. At the end of a course, you will usually receive a certificate – which depending on which course provider you subscribe to – could be recognised either nationally, or globally.

Some people take out e-Learning subscriptions for themselves, or they might purchase them as a gift for someone else.

How much does an e-Learning subscription cost?

The cost of e-Learning subscriptions can vary quite considerably, and providers might give you the option of paying monthly or yearly. Many online learning providers also offer free trials, or free access to courses without some of the added benefits mentioned above. So, if you’re unsure whether you want to commit to a subscription, then it can be worth giving these a try first.

What are the benefits of an e-Learning subscription, compared with free or one-off payment courses?

People take out e-Learning subscriptions for a range of different reasons – perhaps because they want to work on their personal or professional development, or maybe just for fun. When deciding whether to subscribe to an e-Learning provider, it can be helpful to consider what additional benefits you might gain from taking a subscription-based journey – rather than a free one, or paying for a one off course.

Free courses

Free courses will often give you an introduction to a subject, and help you get to grips with the basics. You usually won’t have access to an online tutor, and you might get a certificate upon completion – but it’s unlikely that it will be one that carries accreditation, or that is widely recognised in the UK, or abroad. In many cases, for people who are just learning for fun, or who aren’t worried about getting accredited certification, a free course or learning pathway will often be enough.

e-Learning subscriptions

If you want to take your learning to the next level, either for personal reasons, or because you’re looking to impress potential employers, then it’s worth being aware of some of the benefits that you could stand to gain from a subscription-based e-Learning pathway. Common benefits include:

  • The chance to take unlimited courses under a single subscription. This also means that if you change your mind about a course, you could start a new one.
  • Access to an online tutor, who can answer your questions and offer support.
  • The option to pause causes, save your progress, and pick it back up at a time that’s convenient for you.
  • The chance to revisit lessons as many times as you like at no extra cost.
  • Getting to go deeper with your learning, rather than only scratching the surface – this could include being asked to do assignments, or put practical skills into action away from the computer.
  • Widely recognised certification – with a certificate either included in the cost of the subscription, or heavily discounted.
  • Removal of all adverts from courses. Whilst this isn’t a dealbreaker, adverts can sometimes be an annoying distraction.

Many people also find that e-Learning subscriptions can be powerful motivators when it comes to learning – because they will often try to take as many courses as they can while their subscription is still active, to get the best value for their money.

Single courses that incur a one-off fee

These courses will usually offer you the same kind of opportunities that e-Learning subscriptions do, with the key difference being that for the cost, you will only have access to a single course.

What are the downsides of an e-Learning subscription?

A potential issue with taking out an e-Learning subscription, is that it’s easy to forget to cancel it when you no longer need it. This means that you could continue paying out for something that you aren’t using, without realising.

It’s also not uncommon for people to sign up to a free trial of a subscription service, and to forget to cancel it before the trial ends. So, even if they had no plans to continue with the service, they end up getting charged when the trial period passes.

If you’re thinking about taking out an e-Learning subscription, then it’s a good idea to make a note in your diary, or to set an alert on your phone, to remind you to cancel it by a certain date. If that date arrives and you decide you want to keep the subscription going, then great – but if not, then at least you will remember to cancel, so that you will no longer be charged.

It’s also worth checking what the cancellation policy of any online learning provider is before you sign up to anything, so that you know whether a subscription has a minimum term agreement, or an early cancellation fee. That way, there won’t be any unwelcome surprises!

Which learning providers offer e-Learning subscriptions?

There are plenty of online learning platforms that offer subscriptions, and the one you choose could be based on cost and/or what sort of subjects you’re interested in learning about. Here are a few examples to give you an idea about what sort of platforms are out there:

Alison strongly believes that learning should be free for all, so you can access all their courses from top universities, world-class professors, experts and companies at no cost at all. However, they provide a subscription service (for 7.99 EUR /£7.15 a month), which offers people a discount on certification upon completion of a course, access to CV builder tools, and the chance to study ad-free. The subscription can be cancelled free anytime, as there is no minimum term.

Courses on Alison include everything from maths to health, through to those that are job-specific, such as manufacturing and marketing.

As well as being a social media platform, LinkedIn also offers courses to help you advance your career – or start a new one. Choose from creative courses on topics such as web design, figure drawing,or photography, from business-related courses including MS Excel training, personal branding and strategic thinking – or from courses in technology such as troubleshooting PC issues, data analytics and javascript.

Currently, LinkedIn Learning is offering a one month free subscription trial, which gives users benefits such as unlimited access to the courses library, full access to LinkedIn Premium – plus, course certificates to add to your LinkedIn profile. After the free trial, LinkedIn Learning comes at a cost of £24.98 per month (taken as monthly payments), or £14.99 per month if you pay for the whole year upfront. To find out more about the terms and conditions of a LinkedIn Learning subscription, have a read of this page, here

Skillshare is a great resource for anyone who is looking to hone their creative skills either for work or for fun. They have a huge catalogue of courses which includes everything from animation to creative writing, through to UI/UX design. With a free account, you can access plenty of free classes on desktop and mobile (iOS) that will help you to discover new skills, techniques and tools. Every virtual class is broken down into smaller lessons that include practical projects to complete and share with a community of creators.

However, if you’re looking for a more in depth learning experience, and would like unlimited access to thousands of courses, then Skillshare offers a Premium subscription. The first two weeks of this is free, and then you can either choose to pay £84 for the whole year, or £13 per month. You can check out Skillshare’s cancellation and refund policy, here.

A final thought…

e-Learning subscriptions can help you to get the most out of your distance learning experience, while studying from the comfort of your own home. While it’s possible to enjoy online learning for free, it’s still worth being aware of the extra benefits that a subscription could have to offer. With Christmas coming up, an e-Learning subscription could also make a great practical gift for a loved one!

If you’d be interested in finding out more about free learning resources or what sort of skills you could consider learning from home, you might want to check out our articles; Learning at home – a guide to free resources and 12 new skills that you can learn from home and how to get started. You could also visit the wider learning section of our site.

We’d love to hear from you!

Do you have any online learning platforms that you would recommend to others? What sort of courses have you taken, or are perhaps thinking of taking? Join the conversation on the community forum, or leave a comment below.

Links with an * by them are affiliate links which help Rest Less stay free to use as they can result in a payment or benefit to us. You can read more on how we make money here.

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